Should NCAA athletes be paid?

NCAA football is currently the third most watched sport in America behind the NFL and MLB, according to NCAA football players and basketball players at the Division I level get the most recognition out of all of the programs because of how popular each respective sport is.

Now you can find college football and basketball video games and you will realize the amount of recognition they get on national television networks such as ESPN, ABC and FOX, just like the professional athletes. One big difference however is they do not get paid.

“It’s amazing the amount of national recognition Division I college athletes receive nowadays on big time networks like ESPN. They are on the primetime level and the ones making the money off the game are the college administrators and the broadcast network itself. Even though it does seem unfair that the players do not get a share, business is business,” said John Beam, head football coach for Laney Junior College.

Although most Division I athletes are on some sort of scholarship where they are provided housing, meal plans and most, importantly, a free education, at the end it is not enough for these student athletes, which is why they should be paid.

With the amount of recognition the media and school shows these athletes on a daily basis, with their jerseys being sold in school and in team stores, and big time players at the Division I level signing autographs and the fans making big time money out of it. It’s just not fair.

Debby Day, head softball coach, assistant athletic director and senior women administrator at California Lutheran University felt otherwise.

“I do understand the mentality that these schools are making money off their student athletes and teams. However, the school also makes a huge investment in those same athletes in the form of scholarships and education,” Day said. “As a former DI athlete at the University of Arizona, my opinion is that my ‘pay’ was in the form of my education, the tutoring, the food and the housing I received.”

Although Division I athletes on scholarships receive free stuff like tutoring, meal plans, nice gear and their education from the school, some student athletes may be going through financial problems. As a result, they then turn to selling merchandise autographed by themselves knowing that they will make a quick profit out of it, especially if they are big time athletes who will eventually go professional one day.

“NCAA rules are extremely clear, especially at the DI level,” Day said. “As of now, this practice is illegal and the student athletes who participate clearly know they are breaking the rules when they sell autographed items and therefore should be punished.”

Even though it’s against the rules I feel the student athlete should not be punished. The whole sports nation is making money off of these college athletes and what are they getting in return?

“The NCAA is by definition an amateur association, meaning not professional and therefore not paid. If pay becomes part of the picture the whole collegiate athletic structure will have to change,” Day said.

College athletes however should somehow receive a share of what the school makes off of them during nationally televised sporting events, the video games that they appear in and even some of the photo shoots they take with big time sporting magazines such as Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazine. Yes, they are getting recognition nationally, but how is this helping them financially?

Damante Horton, a former player for Washington State football, knows that exact feeling.

“Last year when the video game NCAA College Football came out I was pretty excited to see myself in the video game and play as myself. The video game matched me almost exactly to the way I would look on the field in real life and I thought that was pretty cool,” Horton said. “After playing I came to the realization that I am featured in a video game that is sold to millions and I don’t receive anything from it.”

According to on August 8, the O’Bannon Ruling which was brought up by a former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and 19 other people sued the NCAA because they stopped players from selling the right to their names. They claimed it violated antitrust laws by not getting a share of the revenues generated off their faces in video games and broadcasts. The judge ruled that players at big schools can have money which was generated by television contracts put into a trust fund to pay them when they leave.

Although this is certainly not saying the college athletes are going to start getting paid as they attend school, this is definitely a big plus for the future of student athletes.


Randall Shumpert

Published October 29, 2014